Yankee Angling

Yankee Angling

The Top 10 New England Trout Rivers

  • By: Tom Fuller

Ah, New England-land of bucolic hills, picturesque villages and beautiful fall foliage. True. Ah, the fly-fishing- native brook trout, intimate little creeks and solitude on the stream… Wait, not so fast. Although there are plenty of places in New England where you can fish for brook trout all by yourself on intimate little streams, most of the 10 rivers listed here are a little bit different from the popular image of Yankee angling. First of all, these rivers offer anglers the chance to catch landlocked salmon, brown trout and rainbows along with the native brookies.

Second, some of these rivers can attract quite a crowd during the spectacular fishing of spring and fall. And lastly, they're mostly tailwaters. That's right, tailwaters-as in, below a dam. And why do these manhandled rivers dominate our Top 10 list?

Because they're the places to go if you're looking for large fish in good numbers. In fact, thanks to relatively enlightened regulations and the Clean Water Act, New England's tailwater fisheries may be better now than they ever were. Although many of the dams stretched across these rivers are now obsolete, and some are nearly useless (with a few beginning to be removed), they tend to create ideal conditions for the brown and rainbow trout-and landlocked salmon in the cases of Maine and New Hampshire-that live below them. For instance, Connecticut's Farmington River has become an exciting and superb fishery because its Hogback Dam releases cool water that produces an abundance of insects and keeps trout active and growing year round. Of course, tailwater fishing is not everybody's cup of tea. Not only are the predominant game species non-native-they're not brookies or Atlantic salmon, in other words-but they're largely the products of hatcheries rather than of natural reproduction. (That's not to say, however, that in most of these rivers fish stocked as juveniles don't hold over and grow year after year, some of them reaching enormous sizes.) In addition, tailwater fishing can be maddeningly technical, with well-fed, wary trout that demand both an exact, often tiny, imitation and a perfect presentation. And, as we mentioned earlier, many tailwaters do draw crowds. If you are among those anglers who"don't do" tailwaters, then of course your own Top 10 New England trout streams list will be will be a lot different than ours-and you'll get no quarrel from us. (We're also fairly certain you're not eager to see you list in print… ) In any case, from North to South, here are FR&R's choices for the Top 10 New England trout rivers:

Kennebec River -- Maine The Kennebec River roars to life as a large coldwater fishery right at the point of its origin at Moosehead Lake in Maine's Great North Woods. And it retains this high quality for 120 miles downstream to the head of tide in Augusta. Along many stretches of its run, trophy opportunities exist for landlocked salmon, brook trout, browns and rainbows, including many stream-born wild fish and bruiser-size holdovers. The fame of the Kennebec has been long established at its source along a three-and-a-half -mile long flow below Moosehead known as the East Outlet. In the spring landlocked salmon to five and six pounds push up into the river from Indian Pond, an eight-mile-long reservoir, to chase spawning smelt and again in the fall during their own spawning run. Yet throughout the year, salmon and brook trout are drawn up into the strong flows by ample forage. According to Danny Legere of Maine Guide Fly Shop,"When the big salmon move up from Indian Pond, you can almost be disappointed in an 18-incher." Below Indian Pond, the river rages through a 10-mile-long wilderness gorge to The Forks, a section particularly appealing to whitewater rafters, but difficult and dangerous to fish. Yet below The Forks, the river settles into the regular routine of a working energy source, with eight more dams generating electricity. Below each dam, tailwater fisheries have quietly emerged and are slowly gaining renown as providing some the very best angling in New England. Pay particular attention to the wild rainbows below Wyman Dam in Bingham and the big browns and rainbows below Shawmut Dam in Fairfield. The Kennebec is born big and it only increases in size as you go downstream. A drift boat or canoe is the only way to fish it in many places. In others, such as the 600-yard run of river below the Shawmut Dam in Fairfield, wading is possible and even preferred for the big brown trout that sip tiny caddis. The state annually stocks over 35,000 fish in the Kennebec, but there is excellent carryover of trout and salmon, and the reach of river between Bingham and Solon holds one of the East's best population of wild, stream-born rainbow trout. River Stats: The Kennebec River is governed by a broad array of regulations. The East Outlet is fly-fishing only and is open from April 1 to October 31. Indian Pond Dam downstream to Abenaki Dam in Madison is also open from April 1 to October 31, with some sections limited to artificial lures only and others under general law regulations. From the Abenaki Dam downstream to tidewater in Augusta, the season is open year-round, but there are restrictions on tackle in some places (artificial lures only; single hook artificials, etc.) and general law regulations in others. If you are fly-fishing and releasing your fish, you need not worry about the regulations, but check the two full pages in Maine's Open Water Fishing Regulations booklet anyway. Fly Box Up and down the Kennebec you'll meet all of the standard hatches. This rich water produces abundant mayflies in season, superhatches of caddis through the late spring and into summer, and holds large populations of stoneflies, especially in its upper reaches. On the East Outlet, Danny Legere likes big streamers that imitate smelt, especially during the catch-and-release months of April and October. Try Mitchell Creek streamers, Marabou Black Ghosts and green Woolly Buggers, but small beadhead Pheasant Tails can save the day. Farther downstream, John Keneally (sp?) takes advantage of the Blue-Winged Olive hatch with his BWO CDC Loop-Wing Dun, but likes his John's 'Chuck Caddis later in the season when caddis predominate. Bob Mallard, in the Bingham and Solon sections, likes big, Western-style streamers to pound up lurking browns with flies like the Zoo Cougar and the Kiwi Muddler. In the Shawmut Dam section, there are always good supplies of caddis, with the Zebra Fly (Alder Fly locally) drawing particular attention. Fly shops Kennebec East Outlet: Maine Guide Fly Shop& Guide Service Greenville, Maine 207-695-2266 www.maineguideflyshop.com Aardvark Outfitters Farmington, ME 207-778-3330 www.aardvark.com Kennebec Main Stem: Fly Fishing Only Fairfield, Maine 207-453-6242 www.maineflyfishing.com Kennebec River Outfitters Madison, Maine 207-474-2500 www.kennebecriveroutfitters Mountain Valley Flies Solon, Maine 207-643-2472 www.mtnvalleyflies.com

West Branch of the Penobscot River - Maine The West Branch of the Penobscot River in Maine has earned its fame as the best landlocked salmon and brook trout river in the East by producing strong stream-born fish for decades. With added protective regulations in the 1990's, and the end of a three-year-long drought in 2004, the salmon are again abundant, feeling like football-shape rockets when hooked. Two- to three-pound fish are common and four- and five-pound fish are always available. Maine fisheries biologist Paul Johnson says,"We're managing the smelt population in Chesuncook to provide better forage in the river below Ripogenus Dam, and we're already seeing better and bigger salmon there." The West Branch is a large river that can be daunting as it crashes through gorges and down long, fierce rapids, but there are plenty of spots that can be waded, with ample access along the Golden Road, a privately owned paper company passage. There are also several reliable guides who offer driftboat access that gets anglers to many reaches of the river unavailable to waders. The most popular and productive section of the West Branch runs from Ripogenus Dam for 18 miles to the Debsconeag Falls below the Abol Bridge on the Golden Road, but most visiting anglers fish the upper seven miles of the river above the Nesowadnehunk Deadwater. River Stats The West Branch is open from April 1 to September 30, both above Chesuncook Lake and below the Ripogenus Dam. From the Ripogenus Dam to the Telos Road Bridge is fly-fishing only with a one salmon per day limit, 26-inch minimum. The rest of the river, both above Chesuncook and below the Telos Road Bridge to Debsconeag Falls, allows artificial lures until August 15, then becomes fly-fishing-only. Below the Telos Road Bridge, during the artificial lures only segment, only artificial lures with one hook-a single pointed hook or a treble hook-are allowed to Debsconeag Falls. All of the landlocked salmon and brook trout in the West Branch are wild, stream-born fish. Fly Box The West Branch is smelt country, so nearly any smelt pattern, like a Joe's Smelt, a Nine-Three, or a Black Ghost, can be productive. Yet many smelt are stunned or killed when drawn through the Ripogenus Dam generators, and the old Quill Fly, a floating turkey quill smelt imitation, has been modified into the Cyclops Fly, tied with floating mylar tubing and one eye epoxied to the bottom to imitate stunned smelt. Danny Legere always drifts a Cyclops over the deep-water pools and often raises up the largest salmon holding in them. He uses a Red Gray Ghost to get a bit deeper. There are also strong hatches of Hendricksons and Red Quills in May and early June, with an occasional decent hatch of March Browns, followed by Cinnamon Caddis, best imitated with Eddy Rief's W.B. Caddis, and green and olive-bodied caddis. Brown and black stonefly nymphs are always available. Fly Shops Mountain View Drifter Lodge and Outfitters Millinocket, ME 207-723-5535 www.mountainviewdrifter.com Two Rivers Canoe and Tackle Medway, Maine 207-746-8181 www.tworiverscanoe.com

Upper Androscoggin -- New Hampshire The Androscoggin is another big, brawling river of the North Woods. It is born at Errol Dam, which raises the waters of Lake Umbagog, which is itself fed from the waters of the Rapid and the Magalloway rivers-fine brook trout and landlocked salmon rivers in their own rights. Below the dam, the big Dam Pool is famed for attracting and holding big trout and landlocked salmon before it spills into a fast water run for a half mile to Bragg Bay in the heart of the town of Errol. Below Bragg Bay, and all through a state-preserved section of watershed known as the Thirteen Mile Woods, this big water alternates between long sections of rapids and equally long sections of slick water. In the rapids and pocket water, big rainbows will slash at offerings, making heavier-than-normal tippets necessary. In the slack water, browns and brookies can be infuriatingly selective. Yet throughout this flow, the fishing remains strong right through the first weeks of July when the water warms some and the fish go deep. River Stats The Androscoggin River in the Errol region opens to fishing on January 1 and closes October 15. From the Errol Dam to the markers at the dead water at Bragg Bay is fly-fishing only. The water between the Dummer-Cambridge townline to the Pontook Dam is considered a lake and is governed by those state rules. The water releases below the Errol Dam and the Pontook Dam can cause the water to rise quickly, so stay alert. Fly Box According to one old timer,"You can use any fly you want on the Androscoggin as long as it's a Hornberg." And in truth, the Hornberg in its many guises, sizes and colors imitates a variety of forage in the Androscoggin. Jim Grant of L. L. Cote's in Errol likes it in natural and brown colors but only with a natural junglecock eye. He also says that the major hatch on the river is the Zebra Caddis (Alder fly locally), which comes off starting mid to late June and lasts for two weeks. There are also Hendricksons, Red Quills and Blue-Wing Olives. In addition, many anglers stick with streamers to tempt the big trout and salmon. A favorite is the Brown Owl streamer, a local concoction, but Black and Gray Ghosts produce well, as do orange Muddlers, the Golden Demon, and olive and black Wooly Buggers. Fly shops L.L. Cote Sports Shop Errol, NH 603-482-7777 www.llcote.com Osprey Fishing Adventures Colebrook, NH 603-922-3800 www.ospreyfishingadventures.com Great North Woods Guide Service Errol, NH 603-482-3856

The Upper Connecticut River -- New Hampshire The Upper Connecticut River is actually a long run of river that starts at the top of Pittsburg, New Hampshire, at Fourth Connecticut Lake and continues to hold impressive numbers of trout all way downstream to where the Ammonoosuc River enters some 50 miles away. It can be effectively divided into the upper section above the Murphy Dam in Pittsburg and the lower that runs from the dam to Groveton and the Ammonoosuc. Above Pittsburg, the river is a typical northern woodlands stream. Brook trout predominate, but good runs of landlocked salmon come out of the lakes and into the river in the spring to chase spawning smelt and again in the autumn on their own spawning runs. Below Murphy Dam, the water stays cold and the river holds brookies, browns and rainbows, with some impressive fish caught each year. This lower river flows through a lovely agricultural valley, is more gravel bottomed than stone lined, and supports ample hatches and forage. River stats The Upper Connecticut River season runs from January 1 to October 15. From the dam at Second Connecticut Lake to the logging bridge on Magalloway Road is fly-fishing-only, catch-and-release, and fly-fishing-only below it to the inlet at Green Point on First Connecticut Lake. From the First Connecticut Lake Dam downstream to Lake Francis is fly-fishing only. In Stratford, south of Colebrook, there is an artificial-lures-only, catch-and-release section of river from 1600 feet above the bridge in North Stratford upstream to 250 feet below the Lyman Falls Dam, which is breached. Bear in mind that the Connecticut River is a New Hampshire water where it flows between New Hampshire and Vermont. While resident fishing licenses from either state are valid on the entire river, only New Hampshire non-resident licenses allow fishing in the river east of the low water mark in Vermont. Fly box The river above Pittsburg flows between the Connecticut Lake impoundments in which the major forage species is smelt, making smelt imitations effective especially early in the season when they are pushing up into the river to spawn. Gray and Black Ghosts and Gray Putts Favorites work well as do Magog Smelts and Nine-Threes. Later in the season, caddis predominate up here so Elkhair Caddis in olive and brown work well, as do gray CDC caddis patterns. Below Pittsburg, there are good hatches of mayflies, from Hendricksons, Blue-Winged Olives and March Browns to Sulphurs and Cahills. For the big bruiser trout below Murphy Dam, try olive or black Wooly Buggers, Marabou Muddlers and Yellow Hornbergs. Fly shops Lopstick Lodge and Cabins Pittsburg, NH 800-538-6659 www.lopstick.com Ducret's Sporting Goods Colebrook, NH 603-237-4900 www.northcountrychamber.org/ducrets.htm Osprey Fishing Adventures Colebrook, NH 603-922-3800 www.ospreyfishingadventures.com

The Winooski River -- Vermont The Winooski River offers the best of all worlds in Vermont's trout fishing spectrum. From its headwaters in the mountains near Cabot, it flows southwest to its confluence with the Mad River in Montpelier and represents ideal New England brook trout country. Tumbling waterfalls lead to deep forest pools and meandering pocket water that holds wild brookies. At Montpelier, the Winooski turns to the northwest, gathers size and strength from the Mad and Dog Rivers, and heads towards Lake Champlain, where it enters just north of Burlington, the state's largest city While the entire river fishes well early and late in the season when the water temperatures are ideal, in the summer the long stretch from Montpelier all the way downstream to Richmond stays cool from the influx of tributaries like the Mad and Dog rivers, as well as the inflow of the Little River, a tailwater of the Waterbury Reservoir, and the waters from the Bolton Dam. Expect to find rainbows and browns averaging 10 to 14 inches, but there are occasional big fish weighing over three pounds and measuring 20 inches. River stats From the headwaters of the Winooski in Cabot downstream to the Route 2 bridge in Waterbury general regulations apply-open from the second Saturday in April until the last Sunday in October. There are no length restrictions and 12 brookies, browns and rainbows may be killed a day, but no more than 6 rainbows and browns. From the Route 2 bridge to the Bolton Dam in North Duxbury, the limit is reduced to two fish. From Bolton Dam downstream to U.S. Route 7 (actually to the ledges opposite) in Winooski, fishing is allowed all year, but during the regular closed season with artificial lures only, catch-and-release only. The 4.4 miles from Ridley Brook in North Duxbury to Preston Brook in Bolton has a protected slot limit of 10 to 16 inches and a two fish a day limit with only one fish over 16 inches during the regular season. There is no dedicated catch-and-release water. Fly Box The upstream brookie waters have relatively sparse hatches, so attractor flies like Royal Wulffs and Humpies do well. Caddis imitations, like the Elkhair Caddis in brown and olive, are consistent producers, too. Farther downstream, beyond Montpelier, strong hatches of mayflies, like the Hendrickson, March Brown, Isonychia and Drakes are spring staples, and favorite patterns include a Parachute Hare's Ear and a Parachute Adams with a mahogany body. Caddis are always present, so fish emerger and larvae caddis imitations when mayfly hatches are absent, and dredge deep with stonefly imitations such as the Double Tungsten Stone, along with streamers when nothing is showing. Fly shops The Fly Rod Shop Stowe, VT 802-253-7346 www.flyrodshop.com The Classic Outfitters South Burlington, VT 800-353-3963 Pleasant Valley Fly Fishing Guides Jeffersonville, VT 802-644-2813 www.pleasantvalleyflyfishing.com Catamount Fishing Adventures Stowe, VT 802-253-8500 www:catamountfishing.com

The Deerfield River -- Massachusetts Although its three feeder branches rise up in Vermont's Green Mountains, by the time the Deerfield River enters Massachusetts it is a full grown, and productive, trout river. Because of its steep gradient, however, it is dotted with power generating dams that created a good news/bad news scenario. The good news is that the dams are all bottom release facilities so that the river maintains excellent temperatures for holding trout all year long. The bad news is that since power company deregulation hit Massachusetts, the water releases are unpredictable. Still, according to Andrew Madden, the fisheries director of the state's Western Wildlife District, there is no better or more extensive trout water anywhere in the Commonwealth. Sportsmen and river users are hopeful that the state may intervene to return the river to its FERC-approved agreements from before deregulation. Current wisdom dictates fishing deep during water releases with beadhead nymphs, or driving downstream ahead of the water surge for dryfly angling. The water rise travels downstream at about four miles an hour, and there are easily accessible runs and pools all along the next 20 miles. The water is heavily stocked and holdover trout are plentiful. River stats There is no closed fishing season in Massachusetts. The Deerfield River has two artificial-lure-only, catch-and-release sections. The first runs from the Fife Brook Dam downstream to the Hoosac Railroad Tunnel, the second from Pelham Brook downstream to the Mohawk Campground on Route 2. Fly Box Although the Deerfield does have some intermittent mayfly hatches, like Hendricksons and March Browns, it is mainly a caddis river, especially Cinnamon Caddis, Little Sister Sedges and Black Caddis. Fish these hatches with emergers and pupae imitations. Anglers targeting the river's big holdover trout will use Cardinals, Black-nosed Dace, and Marabou Muddler streamers. Black and olive Wooly Buggers are productive, too. Fly shops Dave's Pioneer Sporting Center Northampton, MA 413-584-9944 Walt Geryk, Fly Fishing Guide Hatfield, MA 413-247-3380

The Westfield River -- Massachusetts The Westfield River flows out of the eastern slope of the Berkshire Hills in western Massachusetts. According to Andrew Madden, the fisheries head of Massachuesetts' Western Wildlife District,"It's notable because of the variety of angling opportunities it presents, from remote headwaters full of brook trout, to an excellent and long artificial only, catch-and-release section, to a large mainstem that holds trout measured in pounds." The watershed includes the West, Middle, and East Branches, and each of them offer small stream, remote angling. In fact, 43 miles of these waters have been designated Federal Wild and Scenic waterways. The East Branch becomes the largest, originating in the hill town of Savoy, but growing as it parallels State Route 9, and then plunging through the Chesterfield Gorge as a good sized, yet manageable, trout stream. The branches merge in the town of Huntington and form a large, fertile, trout-filled river all the way along Route 20 into and through the city of Westfield. The state stocks this section heavily, and there are large holdover trout throughout. Good access abounds all along the river system. River stats There is no closed fishing season in Massachusetts. There is one extensive artificial-lure-only, catch-and-release section on the East Branch that begins at the Chesterfield Gorge and runs for seven and a half miles downstream to the Knightville Reservoir, a flood control impoundment that is emptied after the winter runoff. Fly box The Westfield River system enjoys the full complement of hatches, including a wide array of mayflies from Quill Gordons to Hendricksons to sulphurs to Isonychias. In addition, there are plenty of caddisflies, especially Cinnamon Caddis and Little Sister Sedges. Use pupae and emerger patterns. Fish Green Rock Worm larvae patterns in the main stem, along with the local patterns-the Moby Dick, a streamer, and the Olive Teko Bug, a nymph. Fly shops B G Sporting Westfield, MA 413-568-7569 Marla Blair's Fly Fishing Guide Service& Instruction Ludlow, MA 413-583-5141 www.marlablair.com

The Farmington River -- Connecticut The Farmington River is a high quality, medium-size trout stream that flows through the picturesque rural hills of north-central Connecticut and is fed from the base of two flood control dams on its East and West Branches. Unlike other tailwaters, the Farmington's water releases are gauged to run-of-river flows, effectively eliminating the sudden rises and drops of water that plague most New England tailwaters. In addition, the state of Connecticut has recognized the value of the Farmington and has created two extensive Trout Management Areas, but it has also designated the rest of the river as a trophy trout stream, reducing the creel limit to two a day and increasing the minimum size limit to 12 inches. Most anglers have applauded this action and have noted that the river has fished even better this year. The West Branch of the Farmington flows out of Hogback Dam in Riverton and is considered by many to provide the very best angling in southern New England. Quick flowing pocket water sections are interrupted by long slick pools. Access is excellent with roads paralleling both shores, and a long stretch of the West Branch is flanked by state forests lands. The Main Stem is formed in New Hartford where the two branches join, and the resulting river is larger, but still manageable. It fishes very well all the way downstream to below the Lower Collinsville Dam. River stats The Connecticut statewide trout season runs from the third Saturday in April to the last day in February. On the Farmington River, however, there are two Trout Management Areas that are open year round. The most famous is on the West Branch from approximately one mile above the Route 318 bridge in Barkhamstead to the Route 219 bridge in New Hartford. It is catch-and-release-only water, only barbless hooks allowed. The second is on the main stem from the base of the Collinsville Dam in Collinsville downstream for three miles to the Route 4 bridge. From September 1 to the third Saturday in April, it is catch-and-release-only water. The rest of the river is a designated Trophy Trout Stream with a two fish a day limit and they must be at least 12 inches long. Fly box The Farmington River supports the full array of mayflies and caddisflies, with strong hatches of Hendricksons, March Browns, and Sulphurs, as well as Black Caddis, Green Rock Worms and Little Dark Sedges. In the autumn, there is a good hatch of Giant Red Sedges. The bread and butter staple on the river, however, is tiny flies, midges and tiny, size 20 to 24 Blue-Winged Olives. Fly shops Classic and Custom Fly Shop New Hartford, CT 860-738-3597 www.classicandcustomflyshop.com Quiet Sports Collinsville, CT 860-693-2214 www.quietsportsct.com

The Housatonic River -- Connecticut The Housatonic is a storied river in the northwestern corner of Connecticut that has earned its reputation. Its waters are rich with minerals, the product of its feeders and in-stream seeps flowing up from and over the limestone of the region. And the enriched waters produce superb insect life, hatches and fat trout. In addition, because of an old and persistent PCB problem, the entire river has been a de facto catch-and-release flow for years, with large trout holding over and available. During low water years, the stream can warm to dangerous levels, but the state has helped address this problem by making the mouths of the cool mountain feeder streams off-limits to anglers during the summer, thus providing a sanctuary for heat-stressed trout. And during the cool seasons of spring and autumn, the fly-fishing can be nothing short of spectacular. The upper Trout Management Area, from Falls Village to Cornwall Bridge, is picturesque, productive, and easily accessed, making it very popular. The newer, lower TMA, which runs from Kent to New Milford, is much more difficult to get to, often requiring a 20 minute hike, but it does harbor some very impressive holdover trout. River stats Although some sections of the Housatonic are managed under the general laws of Connecticut, namely opening the third Saturday in April and closing on the last day in February, most of the very best trout water is contained in two Trout Management Areas where catch-and-release is the rule. The first starts at the Routes 112 and 7 bridge south of Falls Village and continues downstream to the Route 4 bridge in Cornwall Bridge. Note: the lower 3 miles of this run is fly-fishing-only water. The second, called the Bull's Bridge TMA, starts at the Bull's Bridge Impoundment Dam in Kent and runs downstream to the Route 7, Gaylordsville Bridge in New Milford. In both TMAs, there is no closed season except for within 100 feet of the mouths of tributaries, as posted, and these areas are closed from June 15 to August 31 to provide thermal refuges. Fly box The Housatonic has gained its fame largely because of the great hatches it supports, as well as from the fine fish these hatches feed. Mayflies are the early season attraction from Quill Gordons through Hendricksons, March Browns, Sulphurs, Cahills, and Blue-Winged Olives both early and late in the season. There are strong caddisfly hatches, too, including Little Green, Black, and Alder Flies (Zebra Caddis). The big trout can often be tempted with streamers, like Black-nosed Dace, Matukas, and olive and black Woolly Buggers. Fly shops Housatonic Meadows Fly Shop Cornwall Bridge, CT 860-672-6064 www.flyfishct.com Housatonic River Outfitters Cornwall Bridge, CT 860-672-1010 www.dryflies.com

The Wood River -- Rhode Island The Wood River is a great surprise for anyone knowing Rhode Island only by its crowded ocean front and urban reputation. Located in the state's rural west side, the Wood originates in the Arcadia Management Area, a 13,000 acre swath of preserved forest land, and runs for nearly 18 miles to its juncture with the Pawcatuck River. Along the way, the Wood is a very productive freestone stream with strong hatches that gets interrupted occasionally by small unobtrusive dams. In fact, the dams provide havens for holdover trout as the water in the river warms during the summer, and savvy anglers will concentrate their efforts in these quiet backwaters when the rest of the stream is fishing poorly. The lower half of the Wood has several places where wade fishing is possible and productive, but a canoe trip is also a very good option. Access is ample, and there are several public landing areas for put in or take outs. River stats The fishing season in Rhode Island opens on the second Saturday of April and runs until the last day of February. On the Wood River, the daily creel limit is two fish. The Fall River, a major tributary, is catch-and-release-only, artificial-lure-only for two miles between the bridges at Austin Farm Road and Brook Trail. Fly box The Wood River has some excellent hatches of mayflies and caddisflies, especially Hendricksons early, Mahogany Duns, and a long emergence of Hexagenias that can last here for four to six weeks starting mid-June. Black and tan caddis predominate. When the trout retreat to the depths in summer, go after them with bright streamers, like a Mickey Finn or a Cardinale, or with beadhead Woolly Buggers. Fly shops Quaker Lane Bait and Tackle North Kingstown, RI 401-294-9642 www.quakerlanetackle.com Blackstone Fly Company West Greenwich, RI 401-265-1396 www.blackstoneflies.com